Thursday, December 4, 2008

Spanish Inquisition Left Genetic Legacy in Iberia

After reading this article in New Scientist I was amazed that I've yet to find any Jewish ancestry in my family tree. For those of you just tuning in, my family, Hernandez Morales, is of Spanish descent. We've all had our DNA tested by the National Geographic Genographic Project just for fun and I will say our findings do concur with the findings in the article. We pretty much split evenly between European and North African DNA with Y Haplogroups I1 (Germanic) and E3b (Berber) and Mt Haplogroups U4 (Celtic) and U6 (Berber) as the norms. Again, it's very odd that I've yet to find any Sephardic Jew in my genes...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

'Tis the Season for Pagan Rituals

Despite my cynicism with all things Christian, I do get a warm and fuzzy feeling about Christmas Trees. I love the scent of pine throughout the house. I love the lights and the ornaments. I love the presents that magically appear underneath on Christmas day. I justify this by telling myself that Christmas trees have absolutely nothing to do with Christianity. They are wholly a pagan ritual. The Romans used to do it to commemorate their winter solstice and the Germanic tribes used to do it to celebrate their Yule festival. So I'm going to keep enjoying this ancient heathen tradition even if my wife makes me place a Nativity scene beneath it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A little barn in the middle of Hialeah

I have such fond memories of Amelia Earhart Park. Where else in this city can you pet a tiny cow? I used to come to this park all the time as a kid (especially while on break for the holidays) and on the odd chance I get to visit now as an adult I find myself really enjoying it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Green Hornet! Whoo!

When I was a kid I was a big fan of The Green Hornet TV show. It was a lot like Batman, only with more kung fu and less camp. Although, I liked Brit Reed as the Green Hornet, I absolutely loved Bruce Lee as Kato. He’s really what kept me watching. So when I heard that the Green Hornet was heading to the big screen, I was totally underwhelmed. My mind instantly flashed to a joyless adaptation with Tom Cruise as the Green Hornet and Jet Li as Kato.

Luckily, real life turned out to be weirder and cooler than I imagined. When Seth Rogen (Super Bad, Knocked up, Pineapple Express) was named not only writer, but as staring as the Green Hornet I couldn’t help but get excited. NOW though we hear that the brilliant Stephen Chow (Shaolin Soccer, Kung Fu Hustle) is not just going to play Kato, but he's going to direct the damned movie too… I am totally ecstatic!

I may be setting myself up for major disappointment with these high expectations, but I don’t think so… these guys are going to knock it out of the park!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What can I say... I'm a Swamp Rat!

Maybe it's cause I was born and raised in Florida, but I find great pleasure in trudging through the muck of the Everglades. It's beautiful country. Personally, I prefer canoeing and hiking, but I'm starting to like horseback riding through the trails. If you want see our swamp ( which my wife is quick to point out that it's not a swamp at all, but a river of grass) I'd suggest Everglades National Park or Big Cypress, but if you want a small taste of our wetlands without running into a gator I'd highly recommend Chapel Trail in Pembroke Pines.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Armadillo Aerospace News

Armadillo Aerospace has won the first level of the Lunar Lander Challenge X Prize! I’ve been a big fan of these challenges and for the past three years I’ve seen Armadillo almost make it. Tomorrow they try for the second level so if all goes well, when Americans go back to the moon, they’ll be touching down on the regolith with Armadillo landers.

In other news, Armadillo Aerospace has teamed up with the Rocket Racing League to not only build a fleet of racers that will streak through the atmosphere, but to also design and build a new craft (with a transparent bubble-shaped cockpit) that will shoot out into space! I can already envision rocket drag races with orbit as the finish line.

Update on the Lunar Lander Challenge: Armadillo Aerospace wasn't able to win the second level of the event because their lander stalled and fell over. Still, they won $350,000 from the first level and they'll try again sometime in early 2009.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

CUBA a comic by Miche Fiffe

I wasn't planning to post today, but my friend, Frank, just sent me a link to this comic and I was blown away, not only by the superb art, but by its authenticity. As a Cuban-American and unabashed comic geek, I have to say that I totally loved this comic. The depiction of young Michel's visit to Cuba and his interaction with his family their was dead on. I highly recommend it and I look forward to seeing more of his work.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The CW Don't Like Dick!

From the same insipid minds that brought you Smallville comes a new show that's bound to suck tremendous ass.... The Graysons! This is the story of Robin before he meets Batman. Um, so he's a circus acrobat. I'm riveted already. To add insult to injury, the CW figured that Dick's name is too offensive for prime time so they'll be calling him DJ instead. D fucking J! sigh.

Now, I do like Robin (a lot) and the animated Teen Titans proves Robin can carry a show… but as Robin. Thing with Dick (or DJ) is that much like Batman, he only becomes interesting after his parent’s death and soon after that he meets Batman so there isn't much time to explore the character's inner demons and motivations.

And look, if I thought this would be a cool combo between Carnivàle and Veronica Mars (which it could be in the right hands) I'd watch faithfully, but let's be honest... I never could watch an episode of Smallville (expect when they have Bart on the show) so I fear this is going to be on the same level of crappiness. Hey, wait! There’s a thought… why not give Bart his own show? I'd buy that.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cuatro Hijos

For more than a year now I've been sifting through old Spanish passenger lists looking to see if I could track down more information about my great great grandfather's arrival to the New World (i.e. Cuba) and I've finally found his name, Jose Antonio Hernandez Rodriguez, on a schooner traveling from Las Palmas, Canary Islands to Havana, Cuba in 1850. The ship was called Cuatro Hijos (Four Sons). The name, date, and locations all line up with the genealogical records kept by my family and it feels pretty cool to have added a bit to the record.

I've been corresponding with some genealogical researchers in the Canary Islands to see if I can trace my family further back than 5 generations and I'll post anything new that turns up.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hey, Hey, We're the Monkeys!

So I finally got my "Thoth as a Baboon" tattoo and I figured I'd share it with you all. Thanks again to Korshi, for designing the tattoo, to Janin for recommending the tattoo shop, Dharma Tattoo, and to Loco for actually inking me up.

Three reasons for getting this tattoo: 1) I wanted something on my left arm to balance me out. 2) I wanted to commemorate three awesome decades on this planet. 3) I wanted to celebrate finishing up my masters. Don't ever let it be said I don't suffer for library science!

Here's an older pic of my right shoulder:

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tattoo of Thoth

It's time for another tattoo! 5 years ago I got a Thoth tattoo on my right shoulder in the form of a stylized ibis. It was my overly-dramatic way of demonstrating my commitment to the written word, whether as a writer or as a librarian. I asked my friend and talented artist, Korshi Dosoo, to design a cooler version of the hieroglyph for Thoth and he totally delivered.

Ever since then, I've wanted another tattoo on my left shoulder to balance me out, but I didn't really know what to get. I don't take these things lightly since they're going to be etched in my skin for life. So after 5 years of looking at the blank canvas of my shoulder and feeling a little lopsided, I realized that I was unbalanced because I was only displaying one aspect of Thoth. You see, the Egyptian god is not just a lofty scholarly ibis. He's also represented by a clever trickster... a baboon, and let's be honest, I'm probably closer to the baboon than the ibis.

So I turned to Korshi once again, bombarded him with references of hieroglyphic monkeys, and he knocked it out of the park again.
I haven't actually gotten this one yet as I'm still searching for a decent (and gentle) tattoo artist, (might need your help on this, Ingrid and Alli) but I will get it this month for sure, because part of the reason for getting the tattoo is to celebrate my three decades on this planet. I'll post pics of my actual tattoos once I get it. Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Top 10 Movie Robots!

This is my own personal list and it’s based and nothing but my own conclusions and tastes. Also, I’m not including Six from Battlestar Galactic (even though I think she’s Top 10 material) because she’s on TV or R. Daneel Olivaw who I believe is the best fictional robot of all time, because he’s in novels. These are just movie robot. Feel free to suggest your own or dispute the order.

10) Gigolo Joe- He was the best part of A.I. The main character kid was kinda lame. Plus, he's the only sex bot on this list.

9) Sonny – His design is really cool, like an anthropomorphic Mac. Even though he was in the shadow of Will Smith, I'm hoping if he gets more screen time in I, Robot 2 he'll move up on this list.

8) C-3PO – This prissy ass robot always manages to be at the center of galaxy changing events… and survives! He’s probably the bravest bot on this list because he feels fear (or the computerized version of it) and still faces danger for his friends.

7) The Little Robots from Batteries Not Included- I was actually considering Johnny 5 for this position but these little guys from the same era are so much better! They're mysterious, alien, and freaking cute.

6) Andrew – I went into Bicentennial Man thinking it was going to suck, but Andrew won me over. Also he’s the only robot on this list to actually achieve humanity.

5) The Terminator – I’m lumping all the Arnold versions of the Terminator here even though they were three different robots. As an assassin he was cold and terrifying and as a protector he was just badass. Although I do like T-1000 more, Arnold managed to beat him, thus proving his ultimate superiority.

4) Bumblebee – I considered putting Optimus Prime here, but let’s be honest, Bumblebee is way cooler and totally stole the movie.

3) R2-D2 - C-3PO’s better half. He’s like a Swiss Army Knife and an Action Hero rolled into one, like a mecha MacGyver. I have no doubt this little robot would kick the metal crap out of any robot on this list, including the Terminator!

2) Data – The destination is not as important as the journey. If Andrew achieved humanity, Data's struggle to reach it is what makes him great. He's also the most complex character on this list. Hell, he'd totally be #1 if the current #1 wasn't so damned irresistible.

1) WALL-E – Pure cinematic perfection.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sexy Seedster vs Hiro Nakamura

With the addition of Hiro's super fast nemesis and despite the horrible crap that was season 2 of Heroes, I am still looking forward to season 3. I have faith that the show's creators have learned from past mistakes and without the looming writer's strike, the show has to be at least on par with the first season… right?

So why do I give this show so many chances and invent so many excuses for it, when everyone else I know has stopped watching? Because I'm a sad geek.

Even though I've been disappointed by this show over and over again, I still get a stupid smile on my face when Hiro and Ando or Clair and Bennet are on screen.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


This is the blog formally known as Cocuyo. I changed the title because there was some confusion between it and my other blog, The Incredible Cocuyo. Hopefully, this will keep them distinct for readers.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I Am Officially a Librarian!

Pic by Ian Simmons
I just finished my Masters in Library and Information Science. (Didn’t know you needed a Masters to be a Library Scientist, huh? I didn’t either when I started! Imagine the horror when I learned my hard-earned Bachelors wasn’t good enough!!!) I will say that despite all my crying and complaining these two years have flown by and now I am done. MUAHAHAH!

In another cruel twist of fate, I am the Children’s and Young Adult Librarian at the JFK Library. This is only ironic if you’re privy to the fact that I grew up coming to this library. I used to steal (um, borrow and then forget to return) the comics, I used to skate in the parking lot and front steps to the detriment of older patrons who were afraid a stray skateboard would crush their weak ankles, I used to play games for hours on the computers and argue with the staff, and most importantly I supplemented my crappy Dade County Public School education at JFK.

And now, I am forced to track down and replace conveniently forgotten comics (called manga now) with an ever-shrinking budget. I have to shoo away the rowdy skaters and threaten them with the police, while secretly admiring their awesome Kick-flips or Ollies. I have to tell the geeky kid, ready for a day of gaming, that PC Reservation won’t allow him to use the computer because he owes $5.20 (for that manga he’s yet to return.)

Of course, I turn a blind eye a lot of the time because these little bastards are inadvertently learning something while they hang out at the library (Lord knows I did!) and you never know which one will be the next Library Scientist.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hialeah Library free of the Evil Eye!

I got in to work today at the JFK Library in Hialeah only to discover a bunch of bananas tied in a red ribbon near the entrance. Someone left "un trabajito" on our stoop! Everyone was freaking out about it since they don't really know what it means and who ever left it is keeping mum on the subject. I thought it was actually kinda cool (enough to blog about it) so I did what any self-respecting librarian would do... I Googled it!

It seems this is an Ebo of the Santeria religion to remove the harsh effects of the dreaded Evil Eye from a specified area. The bananas absorb the bad juju while they rot. So you see, there's nothing to worry about. It was actually a beneficial trabajito or Ebo, as the case may be.

I think it's safe to say there aren't many other libraries in the United States that get ritualistically cleansed of the Evil Eye. To put this into perspective Hialeah has the largest population of Santeros in the U.S. and this sort of thing is quite common.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Last night I started going to yoga class. An hour into it time lost all meaning. I can’t say for sure if it was the swirling incense, the faux-Indian music, or my blurring vision, but as I held myself in some inhuman position, sweat generously running down my nose, chin, and earlobes, my body shaking like a cold Chihuahua... I came to an ultimate truth: I am soft in the middle.

Now this isn’t a spiritual truth, although I’m sure it wouldn’t be too far off the mark, this is harsh, material truth. For all my running and working out my abs and lower back are so soft and weak that even Lord Ganesh himself had to laugh.

I think I’ll stick with yoga, if only to strengthen my core… And you never know if that strength will eventually translate to another plane.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Up, Up, and Away!

"You wrote that the world doesn't need a savior. But every day I hear people calling out for one." - Superman

I've been holding back on posting political stuff on here since this blog is mostly reserved for general geekery, but I have to admit, I totally geeked out when Barack Obama finally won the presidential nomination. I'm not the sentimental type, but I got goosebumps. The U.S. has come a long way in the last 40 years and this is actual, tangible proof that we live in a better world.

Now on to save the day from the rich, white guy in the expensive suit.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Lots of Space: Both Real and Fictional

Wow, I can't believe I let the month of May go by without posting. Is it me or does time seem to be speeding up? I have been very busy lately, first with my Spring semester finals and then with starting my hectic and final Summer semester, so I’m sure it’s not due to some temporal anomaly of some sort. On to the post:

Despite my crazy schedule, I still find time to read regularly. I’ve been making my way through Alastair Reynolds’ Revelation Space series. So far, I’ve read the novels: Revelation Space, Chasm City, and Redemption Ark and I’m currently reading the novel Absolution Gap and the anthology of short stories, Galactic North. The series is great. Lots of big, insane ideas with realistic characterization. If you like hard science fiction mixed with a healthy dose of space opera, you'll love these books.

On the “real” space news front, lots of interesting things are happening. First, the Phoenix Lander arrived on Mars and almost immediately found ice, which is no big deal on Earth, but is huge for the potential past and present life on Mars, not to mention future life (i.e. us). Analysis of the soil and ice should begin next week.

Also, astronomers have discovered 45 Super-Earths around other stars. These are rocky planets that are slightly bigger than Earth as opposed to the gas giants they’ve been finding. This means that planet finding techniques are becoming more refined and it’s only a matter of time before we find an Earth-like planet. So far the smallest planet found is MOA-2007-BLG-192Lb, which is 3 times the mass of Earth. The article tantalizingly hints that the planet might be covered in an ocean, but doesn’t really go into detail. Bastards!

Friday, April 4, 2008

I figured out who the final Cylon is!

I think I’ve figured out who the final Cylon is on the show Battlestar Galactica. This isn’t strictly a spoiler because this is simply my speculation but just in case I’d stop reading here if you don’t even want to speculate.

If you look at this sketch of the final five you’ll notice that it seems like they are 3 males and 2 females. So the last Cylon to be revealed is probably a woman.

The show runners have said that the mystery Cylon isn’t in the above picture. The individual would probably go in the gap between Tigh and Lee Adama. Instead there is a chalice. If you’ve read or seen the Da Vinci Code you know that a chalice is a feminine symbol so right off the bat I’m thinking the Cylon is clearly a woman. Also, I think it’s telling that Lee is by himself when Kara is with her Cylon husband, Anders, on the other side of the table. Where is Dualla?

Think about it. All the major players in human affairs is coupled with a Cylon: Adama has Tigh, Roslin has Tory, Starbuck has Anders, Baltar has Six. (Okay… I' not sure how the Chief applies, but maybe he’s like Boomer in that he was sent to breed.) Why doesn’t Lee, who has been a heavy hitter from the start, have a companion Cylon? Maybe he does.

If you look at Anastasia Dualla’s bio page on the Battlestar Galactica Wiki you’ll read that the name Dualla is linguistically related to the word Duality, something composed of two things (such as a humanoid Cylon). Also the name Anastasia is Greek for “Resurrection”. This wouldn’t be the first case of a Cylon infiltrator using a variant of the word resurrection as an alias. The Six in the Pegasus, Gina Inviere, notes that "inviere" is the Old Gemenese word for "resurrection". There are other linguistic clues thoughout the series, such as the Cylon (Lucy Lawless) that was looking for the final five was called D'Ana and the ship that was captured during the first Cylon War (whose crew was used to create the humanoid Cylons) was called the Diana... (Dee Ana)stasia!

This could all be a massive red herring, but why go to all the trouble of laying these subtle clues just to misdirect viewers?

Saturday, March 29, 2008


I’ve been reading about this a lot lately on various science sites and I was holding off posting a blog about it until something bigger was discovered, but after thinking about it for a bit I realize that this is pretty big. The Cassini probe has been investigating the Saturn system for a while now and one particular icy moon has been consistently stealing the spotlight. First, massive geysers were seen blasting out of Enceladus. This led scientists to the conclusion that beneath the surface Enceladus hid a big ocean of liquid water. The moon is too far away to be heated by the sun, but the constant tug of the planet Saturn flexes the moon and creates heat in its core. So scientists flew the Cassini probe through the stream of one of the moon's giant geysers and found traces of organic molecules mixed in with the water vapor. This is huge. The moon has all the ingredients of life: water, organics, and an energy source. It’s not a stretch to envision a strange ecosystem like the ones found around hydrothermal vents at the cold dark bottom of our own oceans.

Another recent discovery, a whole lot farther away, showed that organics are also present on an exoplanet (a planet in another solar system). Scientists cautiously state that this does not mean that there is life on the planet HD 189733b, because the planet is too close to its sun. This is a sensible statement, but how can we be sure these alien life forms aren't perfectly comfortable there, perhaps under miles and miles of protective cloud layer deep within their gaseous planet?

I’m not a believer in UFOs or Alien abductions or anything like that, but it’s starting to become increasingly clear that the building blocks of life (and possibly life itself) are common in the universe. I’d say that we need to ready ourselves because within the next few decades (if not years) we’re going to discover a Martian bacteria , a Saturian jellyfish, or an HD 189733b-ian incomparable to any living thing we have on Earth and things will be a lot more interesting.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Horseback riding

The last time I rode a horse I must have been about 6 or 7-years-old. The moron at the ranch didn't tighten the saddle properly and as the horse took off, I found myself riding upside down between 4, very powerful, pounding hooves like some sort of screaming circus midget.

So when my wife casually mentioned she wanted to go horseback riding for her birthday I was instantly gripped with primal fear. Of course, we went anyway.

I chose the Bar-B Ranch in Davie not because of its close proximity to our home, but because on their website they mention that every summer they sponsor therapeutic horseback riding lessons for the mentally handicapped. I suddenly thought, "I want one of those horses!" Surely even I could ride these gentile and therapeutic horses across a pastoral landscape like Viggo Mortenson in Lord of the Rings.

I made it perfectly clear to the girl at the ranch that I was a beginner, and I heavily implied I had some sort of nondescript mental handicap. So she gave me Ricky, the slowest, oldest, most inept horse on the ranch. While other riders (my wife included) trotted here and there not unlike Viggo Mortenson, Ricky and I stood there, ate flowers, and peed incessantly.

At least I’m no longer afraid of horses, certainly not Ricky…. And to be perfectly honest I had a great time.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Haplogroup A and the Nicarao People

My wife's genetic test from National Geographic finally came in and she belongs to the mitochondrial Haplogroup A.

This group originated in Asia and is shared by a 10% of the Han Chinese, 7.7% of Koreans and Japanese, and the Chukchi people of Siberia.

In North America it accounts for the majority of the Eskimo-Aleut populations. In the Southwest United States it's assosiated with the Apache and the Navajo. In Central America with the Maya and in South America with the Inca.

Since my wife is Nicaraguan (Central American), it's safe to say she's of Nicarao descent. There is linguistic evidence that the Nicarao people are related to the Mayans. Although the Mayan empire didn't really reach Nicaragua (there are no Maya ruins in the country) it seem a large group broke of and headed south. Pretty awesome!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Strike Back!

The writer’s strike may be coming to an end this week and a lot of people are breathing a sigh of relief. I didn’t really mind the strike too much, not because I don’t watch TV, but because I fully support the writers.

The reason for the strike for those who don’t know (or who didn’t even notice there was a strike going on at all) was because the writers wanted to see some profit or royalties from their work being used on some form of emerging technology (like people watching a show online instead of watching it on TV).

Some people have said that the writers are just being greedy, but it’s called “emerging technology” for a reason. In 10 years I guarantee that TV and the Internet will be the same animal and if people are mostly (or only) downloading shows and movies, the writers will never get paid. It’s not that they’re concerned with not seeing a single cent from the millions of dollars generated a week from geeks watching Heroes online, (okay I’m sure they’re concerned about that too) but their main concern is for the future of their career.
If the strike does end this week I hope they get a good deal, because I’m really looking forward to going back to downloading my favorite shows and now I’ll at least know that these talented writers are getting paid.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I Need My Space

When I was a kid I wanted to be an astronaut, but then my 4th grade teacher quickly dispelled me of that ridiculous illusion by pointing out the cruel realities of my bad eyesight and even worse grades.

Watching that video above has just reignited that childhood dream of one day going into space. Sure it's insanely expensive, but over time it'll become more affordable and much more common place. To put things into perspective, in 1903 the Wright brothers were the first to fly in a plane and by the 1950s airports and airplanes were totally ordinary.

So it may take fifty years to get there, but at least the notion doesn't seem so absurd anymore.

Take that, Mrs. Prem!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My Holiday

Now that I’ve had a day to readjust to the “real world” I can reflect a bit on the last two weeks. So what did I do for the holidays? First I finally got married to my beautiful and patient girlfriend (wife), Marjorie, and then we went to Italy for our honeymoon. Lots of pics ahead so I’m going to post them as links so as not to clog up this post.

The wedding is something of a blur. I remember Marge looking beautiful as she walked down the aisle and when I opened my mouth to tell her so I said something like, “You look awesome,” instead. Aren’t I the articulate one? Another brief flash of memory is the dreaded dance, which turned out really well despite me having the grace of a newborn giraffe. All in all, I have to admit it was pretty wonderful.


Italy was just fantastic. The ancient ruins of Rome, the museums of Florence, the waterways of Venice… I loved every minute of it. I'm still a bit groggy from the return flight so I'm going to let the photos do most of the talking.


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I'm sure you all enjoyed seeing me in one of those newsboy hats.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Prince and the Pauper

No, this handsome devil isn't me in a wig. This isn't a photoshopped illusion or some other kind of gag. This is in fact a 1387 portrait of Pietro Morosini of Venice, Italy. He wasn't really a prince, but he was part of the noble Morosini family. Actually, he was a Senator as well as Venice's ambassador.

When I visited the Correr Museum I was completely taken aback by the resemblance between us, which is why I took a picture despite the strict “No Photos” rule. I mean give me a fancy wig and golden sash I could totally pass as Mr. Morosini.

As a librarian, another cool thing about this guy is that he convinced Cardinal Bessarion not to bequeath his considerable collection of books to some stuffy old Benedictine monks, but instead to donate them to the Republic of Venice, which was the beginning of the Library of San Marco.